Free Shipping on All Orders 1-866-764-1801

Vist our Online Store
+ Reply to Thread
Results 1 to 10 of 10
  1. #1

    Member Sales Rating: (3)

    Join Date
    Jul 2001
    Location
    SDA SweetSpot
    Posts
    5,222

    Default PS Audio xStream Resolution Reference Speaker Cable-A Review Pt. 1

    Part 1 –Introduction and Listening Evaluations

    I’ll never be one of those audio enthusiasts to say that I’m satisfied with my rig(s). I always want more, I just hate going through the rigmarole of evaluating gear. You know what I’m talking about: researching reviews and manufacturer’s literature, sifting through manufacturer’s hype and bs, buying/borrowing/selling gear, pulling my audio racks out from the wall numerous times to swap cables and components and the tedious listening evaluation and note taking process.

    Based on what I had read about the Resolution Reference speaker cables and on my good experience with the PS Audio xStream Resolution Transcendent XLR interconnect cables, I decided to try a 3 meter pair of the xStream Resolution Reference speaker cables. The review of the Transcendent interconnects can be found here: Ps Audio xStream Transcendent IC Review. The Transcendent IC review also lists the associated equipment and recorded media used in this review. My previous speaker cables were Monster Cable Z3 Reference.

    The basic specifications for the PS Audio xStream Resolution Reference and Monster Cable Z3 Reference speaker cables are:

    PS Audio xStream Resolution Reference-Approximately 11 AWG solid core conductors built from PCOCC (Pure Copper by Ohno Continuous Casting process) copper. The cross sectional area of the xStream cable is actually 11% larger than 11 AWG wire. The cable legs are terminated with soldered on spades and screw-on banana plug adapters are included. Price: $800 per 3 meter pair.

    Monster Cable Z3 Reference-10 AWG mult-gauge stranded conductors built from OFC (Oxygen Free Copper) copper. The cable legs are terminated with Monster Lock Pins which allow banana plugs and various size spades to be screwed on. Price: $300 per 10 foot pair.


    Figure 1. xStream Resolution Reference Speaker Cable.


    Figure 2. xStream Resolution banana plug adapters.

    Listening Evaluations

    Day One

    The cables were purchased brand new. Out of the box, they were horrible. Absolutely the worst sounding cables I have heard in a long time. They were unlistenable with a tizzy, bright, high end, a constricted soundstage in three dimensions (it was as if the sound stage was scrunched down in the area between my speakers), and slow, sluggish bass. I would not call the bass “muddy”, but it was inarticulate and dull sounding. PS Audio specifies a break in period of 200 hours. If a component or cable does not impress me within the first 50 hours of play, I send it back or put it up for sale. I do not think that I should have to wait for a month before a piece of audio gear begins to “reveal” itself. I initially thought that the xStream speaker cables would be going back at the end of the week. Fortunately, the cable’s character opened up significantly after 10-1/2 hours of play at moderate level (95 dB). The soundstage width and height constriction was gone. Depth was still shortened. I also noticed more midrange and upper midrange detail than the Z3’s. The bass was still “soft”.

    Day one consisted of 21 hours of play time. My backup CD player did overnight break in duty at low volume while I slept.

    Day Two

    Most of the high frequency brightness was gone. I heard percussion details in familiar recordings that I did not remember. I switched the Z3’s back in to see if the new sounds were evident with the old cable. They were, but I had never noticed them before because they were low level background sounds and were obscured by other percussion instruments. For example, on track 4 (“B’wana-He No Home”) of Michael Franks’ “Sleeping Gypsy” CD, there is a glockenspiel at 0:42-0:47, 1:29-1:36, and 2:38-3:27 that I had never noticed before. It, and the other background percussion instruments were clearly delineated, even as the track was fading out to the end.

    I still hated the bass. On Dave Brubeck’s “Time Out”, the midrange and treble sounds were more detailed than with the Z3 cable. However, the drummer and bass player sounded like they were playing with wet sheets draped over them.

    Day two consisted of 16 hours of play time. My backup CD player did overnight break in duty while I slept.

    Day Three

    At the beginning of day three, I immediately noticed that the bass speed and detail had greatly improved. There was still a sheet draped over the bass player and drummer, but it was a dry sheet rather than a wet one. The midrange and treble now sounded far better than the Z3. The bass still needed some work. After 10 hours of play at normal level (85 dB), the “liquid” midrange and treble that I had enjoyed with the Transcendent IC/Z3 speaker cable combination was back. Stringed instruments like violins also had a “thicker”, richer, more vibrant sound. The bass anomalies were gone, but the bass performance was merely the equal of the Z3 cable. The xStreams had beat the 50 hour sink or swim deadline by three hours.

    Day three consisted of 13 hours of play time.

    Day Four

    I was going to be away from home most of day four. I set up my backup Adcom GCD-750 CD player to play at a high level (105 dB) while I was gone. I returned 6 hours later and expected to find my amp’s heat sinks to be very hot, but they were only 116 degrees and 121 degrees respectively. They idle at 105 degrees and 108 degrees respectively. I let the music play for an additional 5 hours at normal level.

    Day four consisted of 11 hours of play time.

    Day Five

    I was working from home in the morning and could not play any music because I was on the phone most of the time. When I left to go to the office, I forgot to leave the backup CD player running. I could have gotten in an additional 6 hours at 105 dB while I was gone. Upon returning, I let the Cary SACD player run for 3 hours before I sat down for a critical listening session. I first reinstalled the Z3 cable to hear how much of a sonic “fallback” would occur with my old pal.

    I kicked things off with a comparative study of the CD and LP versions of one of my favorite albums, Michael Franks “Sleeping Gypsy”. I first listened to the CD version using the Z3 and xStream cables. That was followed up with a comparison of the CD and LP versions using the xStream cables. Both the CD and LP are well recorded and feature music from Jazz heavyweights Michael Brecker, Joe Sample, Wilton Felder, Larry Carlton, David Sanborn, Joao Donato, and Ray Armando. Copies of the soundstage evaluation charts for this album are attached below.


    Figure 3. "Sleeping Gypsy": A contemporary Jazz masterpiece in analog and digital formats.

    The Z3’s did not stay connected very long. They didn’t sound “bad” in comparison, in fact the Z3’s did a commendable job in comparison to cables costing 2.67 times their price. They’ll be put to good use in some future, secondary system. Compared to the Z3’s, the xStreams had a significantly larger soundstage, particularly with regard to projecting images forward of the speaker plane. There was more detail throughout the frequency spectrum, although the largest differences were in the midrange and treble. The xStream’s bass had more detail and articulation, but the difference was not as significant as heard in the mid and upper frequencies. On track 4 of Sleeping Gypsy, there are some whistle sounds that vary in pitch near the end of the song. The Z3 cable rendered those sounds as coming from a single wide “cloud” stretched between the tops of the speakers. The xStream cable rendered the whistles as coming from three distinct locations. There were more overtones heard with piano and guitar notes. I have been listening to this LP and CD for many years. This is the first time I have paid attention to the lush, exotic percussion tracks laid down by Ray Armando throughout the album.

    I next did an A/B comparison of the LP and CD. Pausing the CD at the very beginning of each track and then starting it once the LP started allowed me to synch the playback of the LP and CD very closely. I could then switch back and forth between the two sources. The soundstage dimensions between the two media were the same. The LP sounded more real due to the following:

    1. More detail and natural decay on guitar strings.
    2. More 3-dimensional weight on vocals, saxophones, and guitars.
    3. Slightly more “growl” on bass guitar notes.
    4. Hi-hat has more metallic shimmer and overtones.
    5. Increased sense of the piano player's finger impact on the keys.

    I stayed up way past my bed time listening to music.

    Day five consisted of 9 hours of play time.

    Conclusion

    Even though my xStream interconnects and speaker cables have less than half the manufacturer’s recommended break in time, their performance has been outstanding. I am looking forward to hearing what further performance improvements will accrue as I get close to and pass the specified 400 hour and 200 hour break in points (or until I get one of those Cable Cooker things). Such Good Sound.
    Attached Files
    Last edited by DarqueKnight; 09-11-2007 at 05:49 PM.
    "Polk SDA-SRSs are hopelessly out of date both sonically and technologically... I see no value whatsoever in older SDA speakers."~Audio Asylum Member
    __________________
    "Knowledge, without understanding, is a path to failure."~DK

  2. #2

    Member Sales Rating: (3)

    Join Date
    Jul 2001
    Location
    SDA SweetSpot
    Posts
    5,222

    Default PS Audio xStream Resolution Reference Speaker Cable-A Review Pt. 2

    Follow Up: Listening Evaluation After Specified 200 Hour Break In

    I crossed the magical 200 hour break in point last night. Comparing what I am hearing today to my listening notes and soundstage charts from 9/10/07, I really can't hear any difference or improvement.
    Last edited by DarqueKnight; 09-27-2007 at 02:29 PM.
    "Polk SDA-SRSs are hopelessly out of date both sonically and technologically... I see no value whatsoever in older SDA speakers."~Audio Asylum Member
    __________________
    "Knowledge, without understanding, is a path to failure."~DK

  3. #3
    Banned
    Member Sales Rating: (14)

    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    houston
    Posts
    2,395

    Default

    "PS Audio xStream Resolution Reference-Approximately 11 AWG solid core conductors built from PCOCC (Pure Copper by Ohno Continuous Casting process) copper. "

    Just curious, are these as stiff as 10 awg romex electrical wire?

  4. #4

    Member Sales Rating: (58)

    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    6 Underground
    Posts
    25,306

    Default

    I hope they're made better then PSA's previous foray into audio interconnects and speaker cable.

  5. #5

    Member Sales Rating: (20)

    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Location
    California Bay Area
    Posts
    5,572

    Default

    very cool write up...I enjoyed reading it !

    great choice of music
    Cary SLP-98L F1 DC Pre Amp (Jag Blue)
    Parasound HCA-3500
    Cary Audio V12 amp (Jag Red)
    Polk Audio Xm Reciever (Autographed by THE MAN Himself)
    Magnum Dynalab MD-102 Analog Tuna
    Jolida JD-100 CDP
    Polk Audio LSi9 Speaks (ebony)
    SVS PC-Ultra Sub
    AQ Bedrock Speaker Cables (Bi-Wired)
    MIT Shotgun S1 I/C`s
    AQ Black Thunder Sub Cables
    PS Audio Plus Power Cords
    Magnum Dynalab ST-2 FM Antenna
    Sanus Cherry wood Speak Stands
    Adona AV45CS3 / 3 Tier Rack (Black /Gold)



  6. #6

    Member Sales Rating: (16)

    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Six 'Burgh (Pittsburgh), PA
    Posts
    6,804

    Default

    Nice writeup Raife. I always enjoy your evaluations. I have some PS Audio XStream Plus speaker cables and enjoy them very much. I wonder how much different the Plus cables vary from the Reference product?
    Carl

  7. #7

    Member Sales Rating: (3)

    Join Date
    Jul 2001
    Location
    SDA SweetSpot
    Posts
    5,222

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by candyliquor35m View Post
    "PS Audio xStream Resolution Reference-Approximately 11 AWG solid core conductors built from PCOCC (Pure Copper by Ohno Continuous Casting process) copper. "

    Just curious, are these as stiff as 10 awg romex electrical wire?
    No, they are just a little bit stiffer than the Monster Cable I was previously using. They easily coil behind my speakers and in their shipping boxes.
    Last edited by DarqueKnight; 09-12-2007 at 11:06 PM.
    "Polk SDA-SRSs are hopelessly out of date both sonically and technologically... I see no value whatsoever in older SDA speakers."~Audio Asylum Member
    __________________
    "Knowledge, without understanding, is a path to failure."~DK

  8. #8

    Member Sales Rating: (3)

    Join Date
    Jul 2001
    Location
    SDA SweetSpot
    Posts
    5,222

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by dorokusai View Post
    I hope they're made better then PSA's previous foray into audio interconnects and speaker cable.
    Yeah, I've read some unkind comments about the build and sound quality of their previous IC and speaker cable efforts (Audio Asylum and elsewhere). I don't have any personal experience with their other cable products, so I can't compare.
    "Polk SDA-SRSs are hopelessly out of date both sonically and technologically... I see no value whatsoever in older SDA speakers."~Audio Asylum Member
    __________________
    "Knowledge, without understanding, is a path to failure."~DK

  9. #9

    Member Sales Rating: (39)

    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Dallas, TX
    Posts
    3,657

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by dorokusai View Post
    I hope they're made better then PSA's previous foray into audio interconnects and speaker cable.

    Which ones were rated poorly? I have some PS Audio XStream Plus cables and really like the sound, but I have nothing of that level to compare them to. Also, I bought them used and just popped them into my system hoping they had been broken in properly. Maybe I should leave them on for a day and see what happens.
    Stereo Rig: Hales Revelation 3, Musical Fidelity CD-Pre 24, Forte Model 3 amp, Lexicon RT-10 SACD, MMF-5 w/speedbox, Forte Model 2 Phono Pre, Cardas Crosslink, APC H15, URC MX-950, Lovan Stand
    Bedroom: Samsung HPR-4252, Toshiba HD-A2, HK 3480, Signal Cable, AQ speaker cable, Totem Dreamcatchers, SVS PB10-NSD, URC MX-850

  10. #10

    Member Sales Rating: (7)

    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Location
    Northern Virginia
    Posts
    1,211

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by AndyGwis View Post
    Which ones were rated poorly? I have some PS Audio XStream Plus cables and really like the sound, but I have nothing of that level to compare them to. Also, I bought them used and just popped them into my system hoping they had been broken in properly. Maybe I should leave them on for a day and see what happens.
    The previous generation PS Audio xStream Statement biwire speaker cables had a habit of snapping the ends off of their banana plugs and twisting binding posts out of amps and speakers if they weren't handled carefully. Not surprising considering the cables were the equivalent of 6 AWG and weighed about 1lb per 1 foot of length. With spade connectors on the ends they weren't a problem for me. None of the products could fairly be called "neutral" in sound quality, which is what some audiophiles tend to go overboard in criticizing. According to PS Audio's design intent, they were going for something they thought sounded good to them, which was a more robust bottom end and a smoother top end than some other products. This form of tone control implemented in the speaker cable doesn't appeal to some. They match very well with brighter speakers, which is why I still use them on my JM Labs speakers. I switched to MIT for the SDA series. The MIT cables did not work well at all with the JM Labs speakers. The PS Audio cables produced too much bass with the SDA series of speakers.

    The PS Audio cables don't sound their best until about 200 hours of use.
    Last edited by Emlyn; 09-13-2007 at 02:40 PM.
    1. JM Labs Electra 920.1 and CC30; MB Quart Vera Sub; Pioneer SC-57; Squeezebox Touch; Panasonic BDT-500 Blu-Ray; Samsung 52" LCD; FIOS; PS Audio Power Plant Premier; MIT S3 cables
    2. Polk SDA-SRS 2.3TL; Sonic Frontiers Line 3 SE; Classe Model 25; Marantz SA8004; Acoustech PH1P; Squeezebox Touch; Music Hall MMF7; PS Audio P1000; MIT S2 cables
    3. Polk SDA 2A; Parasound Halo JC-2 and A21; Musical Fidelity X-DAC; Squeezebox Touch; PS Audio 4.7; MIT S1 cables

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

     

Similar Threads

  1. Replies: 11
    Last Post: 07-28-2008, 10:10 PM
  2. Signal Cable Silver Resolution - Review/ Demo
    By dorokusai in forum 2 Channel Audio
    Replies: 21
    Last Post: 11-01-2006, 02:32 PM
  3. Ethereal Audio - Speaker Cable - Review/ Demo
    By dorokusai in forum 2 Channel Audio
    Replies: 12
    Last Post: 08-02-2005, 02:40 PM
  4. PS Audio xStream Statement - Speaker Cable - Demo
    By dorokusai in forum 2 Channel Audio
    Replies: 10
    Last Post: 05-11-2005, 12:29 PM
  5. Ixos Gamma Speaker Cable Review
    By Zero in forum Basic Hookup/Wiring Questions
    Replies: 17
    Last Post: 04-11-2003, 11:52 PM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts